SNP proposal for whisky levy 'insane' and would leave industry with 'colossal hangover'

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Proposals for a whisky levy have been branded “insane”, with opposition parties saying the move would threaten giving the industry a “colossal hangover” as it continues to recover from the Covid pandemic.

The SNP is set to consider whether to introduce a new whisky tax using the devolved powers of the Scottish Parliament to help tackle the cost-of-living crisis, as part of a potential resolution to its party conference in October.

When it was mooted almost a decade ago by Professor John Kay, then a member of the council of economic advisers under former first minister Alex Salmond, the tax was said to have the potential of raising £1 billion.

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However, critics have said the levy would “attack jobs” across Scotland.

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SNP could bring in whisky tax to help combat cost-of-living crisis

Andrew Bowie, the Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, which has several distilleries, said the policy was “insane”.

He said: “The whisky industry more than pays its way for the UK economy. I am proud to have campaigned for a freeze on spirit duty since first being elected in 2017, which has helped smaller businesses grow their customer base and develop a totemic Scottish industry.

"This insane levy idea has nothing to do with taxing fat-cats. It would attack jobs across Scotland, close distilleries in my constituency, and threaten our internationally recognised brands.

The prospect of a whisky tax has been criticised by the SNP's political opponents.The prospect of a whisky tax has been criticised by the SNP's political opponents.
The prospect of a whisky tax has been criticised by the SNP's political opponents.

"It’s entirely in tune with the SNP’s approach to fiscal ineptitude — first demonise industries which underpin our economy, then blame Westminster when it all goes wrong."

Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, said the policy could leave areas where whisky production is central to the economy with a “colossal hangover”.

He said: “The SNP have been hitting the drink a bit too hard if they think that a tax on Scotland’s national drink will help our economy to flourish after the pandemic.

“We should be looking at ways to make Scottish produce more attractive, not hammering customers. These plans threaten to leave whisky producing areas with a colossal hangover.”

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The motion will go through an internal SNP party process to decide whether it will be voted on by members.

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